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not and we cannot give : that is not the God we worship; that is not the God we can love: and if to believe in God be to think him such as Calvin and others have pictured him, then at once take not only the name of Christians from us, but in addition stigmatize us with that of atheists.
III. To limit the power of God in order to justify his love, is the struggle of a humane and benignant nature against a dark and stern theology; but writers in orthodox divinity, whom it would be too tedious to catalogue, have not scrupled to go the whole length along the line of fearful consequences to which their system led them. They have not hesitated to plead for the eternity of hell's torments the glory of God; strange idea indeed of the glory of God, to contemplate him as the author of everlasting pain and everlasting sin. We think that every attribute of God, in every manifestation, is directly against this doctrine. His omniscience is against it. He must have known from all eternity the destiny of the lost: and with this knowledge, on the orthodox theory, he made creatures with the direct foresight of their everlasting misery and everlasting destruction. His omnipotence is against it. I have shown by the long extract I have before quoted, that the profound and consistent theological reasoner who believes in eternal perdition cannot believe in a moral omnipotence. An all-powerful being must be either inanitely malignant or infinitely benevolent. If God were the one, ne could find delight only in the suffering of his creatures ; and he wills not to relieve them, because he does not will them o be happy. But this idea is utterly repugnant to the use principles of religion. If God be, as we believe he is, ". other, he can have no motive to make his children, the Wola of his own hands, endlessly wretched; and having the power he has also the will to redeem them. A progressive uni is, therefore, the only true solution to God's providence,' God's prescience. Divine justice, it is said, demand What, then, is divine justice? Is this divine justice ide
with vengeance? Is it divine justice, to make the everlasting torture of a race-for the saved are but the gleanings—a sacrifice to boundless self-glorification? Is it divine justice to array all the force of infinite attributes against a limited, a weak, and erring creature? Is it divine justice to meet the offence of ephemeral mortality with the agony of deathless torture and of resistless wrath? If this be divine justice, we have reason to rejoice that it is not human justice. Such justice is but naked malignity; and this view of it is the more firmly established when we further consider that, by the orthodox theology, all is the result of a foregone conclusion, the last term of a dark progression, the execution of a cause uttered in the black womb of eternity, for which the wretches are prepared by the inheritance of a corrupt nature in a corrupt world, and lest all natural causes should be insufficient, by an exposure to the unseen snares of a Satan profound in cunning, mighty in malice, and, by himself and his agents, all but omnipotent and omnipresent. This argument from divine ustice is urged so frequently and earnestly, that I shall here conscribe a few remarks from a writer who has treated the
it with equal force of logic and fervour of eloquence. « Lustice and goodness,” he observes, “are the same. Jusin requires no more punishment for sin than goodness.
is requires the same as justice, but the manner in
enevolence manifests itself under the form of goodness and of justice is different, and, therefore, require
appellation. A person who forgives an offence
itself, or more strictly mercy: the person
upon repentance and reformation ; fication of goodness, which, by way of called goodness itself, or more str who visits an offence which is nei amended with a proper degree of pain another modification of goodness is applied. Mercy and justice, therefore each other in their nature, since th
and justice, therefore, do not differ from eir nature, since they equally arise from be
nevolence, and they differ in aspect only according to the moral condition of the being with regard to whom they are exemplified. This account of divine justice explains, in the most satisfactory manner, the principle on which Deity rewards and punishes mankind. Did men never violate the laws of rectitude, he would make them invariably and completely happy. But there is no person who is free from fault: the moral state of every individual is, in some respect or at some period, such as it ought not to be. Every bad disposition, and every improper habit, must be rectified before happiness can be enjoyed. It is necessary, therefore, that the moral governor of the world should vary his conduct according to the character of the person whom he has to treat; that he should visit the good with favour, and manifest his disapprobation of the wicked; for, if he were to make happiness compatible with sin, it could not be corrected. The effect of pain is to make us dislike and avoid that which causes it. It is for this reason pain is annexed to sin. Sin is an evil which it is necessary to remove; pain is employed as the instrument of its destruction ; and that principle by which Deity has established this constitution of things, by which he so regulates events as invariably to secure the ultimate reward of goodness, and the punishment of wickedness, is distinguished by the term justice. ..... Were it necessary to add any thing more to show that divine justice is not inconsistent with the attribute of goodness, but a part of it, the consideration of the design of its inflictions would afford further evidence of this truth. Every violation of the law o God involves the transgressor, sooner or later, in sunerms! and of this constitution of things, by which pain is insepa rably connected with deviation from rectitude, the Supreme Being is the author. Why did he appoint it? Why die dispose the whole tendency of his moral government as to sure this consequence? Why does he, who is a being
erring wisdom and infinite benevolence, never suffer any offence which is unrepented of to escape punishment ? Since his very nature is love, and since he created all his intelligent offspring in order to make them happy, it can be no gratification to him to involve them in suffering. Their groans can be no music to his ear. If he afflict them, it must be, not for his own gratification, but for their benefit. . . . . .... Viewing then the attribute of justice, which has been supposed to require the endless misery of the greater part of the human race, as that very principle which is designed to prevent this terrible consequence, (a man) feels himself capable of relying with implicit confidence on the decisions of the judge, both with regard to himself and all mankind. He is satisfied that he will treat even the most criminal with perfect equity; that he will place them in circumstances the best adapted to their unhappy condition; that his discipline will ultimately accomplish its end, and extirpate sin and misery from the creation.”* If the doctrine of eternal torment be contradictory to God's justice, much more is it to his wisdom: for surely it is not wise to create only to destroy;
perpetuate endless moral conflict—not only to destroy and confuse, but to destroy and confuse the best and noblest
his works—to inflict undying anguish on capacities suited for undying happiness, to ruin every faculty and to blast
ne. Nor is the doctrine less opposed to his holiness
This wisdom. Improved ideas on the philosophy of our spiritual na
itual nature, and on the real purport of moral retriith the penalties of sin, imply the continuance of
ll or a material heaven by the thinking sin. A material hell or a material heaven by the
sects is in general exploded. Sin carries with
its own punishments: if sin then be eternal
ir in its sufferings, it must also be eternal and and progressive in its s
xistence and its evils. Hell is not merely worable horror, where wretches writhe in eter
of the Divine Government, by T. South wood Smith.
bution, with the penalties of sin.
portion of all sects is in gen
progressive in its existence and its a region of unutterable horror, w
Illustrations of the Divine Government, bu
nal torture, but also a region of boundless sin, of malignant wickedness, of hopeless corruption, of vilest affections, of basest passions. What shall we then say of an infinite holiness, enlightened by infinite wisdom, armed with infinite power, allowing this condition to exist? If the doctrine of eternal torment be true, no such attribute as divine mercy can have being: if this doctrine be true, a God of goodness is a fiction of imagination, the creation of a brain-sick enthusiasm, the dream of amiable but unfounded hopes. It is of no purpose to qualify in these things: there is no room in the same universe for a good God and an eternal hell: if this doctrine be true, the past is a wreck, and the future a curse. To such a condition of existence annihilation were a preferable alternative. It were better the brain should at once moulder with the thoughtless sod, than be tortured with the wilderings of everlasting contradictions; it were better the affections should perish with the last earthly sigh than throb through an eternity of agonized or selfish existence. On the orthodox supposition, either man must lose his identity and go to heaven without remembering whom he knew and loved in life, or he must lose his sympathy, become apostate to all his better feelings, and see without pain or pity many given over to despair with whom on earth he walked in dearest friendship. Instead of the big tear which would have burst from his eye in the years of mortality at the thought even of a partial separation ; instead of the affectionate and instinctive anguish which would have torn nis breast, as he saw the last vision in the sun, and the last flutter in the breeze of the sail which was wafting his friend to another clime; he must approve the sentence, nay, some maintain, he must see its execution with triumph, which may consign his nearest and dearest to endless damnation.
elief could be habitually and practically realized, that human souls were every minute over the wide earth dropping into hell, that amongst the sighs of death with which the world